May 22, 08
Mississippi State Wins First Prize in Challenge X Competition

Mississippi State University in Starkville, Miss. is the first place winner of Challenge X, in which 17 university teams from across the U.S. and Canada competed to reengineer a General Motors (GM) Chevrolet Equinox Crossover SUV with advanced powertrain configurations. The winner of the competition achieved high fuel economy and low emissions, all while maintaining driver comfort and vehicle performance.

Department of Energy (DOE), GM and Natural Resources Canada also kicked off EcoCAR: The NeXt Challenge, a competition set to begin in the fall of 2008 that will challenge 17 university teams to re-engineer a Saturn VUE.

Over the past four years, 17 Challenge X university teams followed a real-world vehicle development process to produce advanced vehicle powertrain technologies that increased energy efficiency and reduced environmental impact. Those technologies were then integrated into GM vehicles and powered by a variety of alternative fuels including B20 biodiesel, E85 ethanol, reformulated gasoline, and hydrogen. GM, DOE, and the Canadian government congratulated students from 17 participating universities at a finish line ceremony on Wednesday in Washington, D.C.

Students competed in 12 events over the eight day final competition, ranging from on-road emissions and drivability assessments to vehicle performance and consumer acceptability evaluations. The Mississippi State team designed a through-the-road parallel hybrid electric vehicle with all-wheel drive using a turbocharged direct-injection diesel engine fueled by B20 biodiesel. The vehicle demonstrated a 38 percent increase in energy efficiency over the production vehicle, a 1.6 second better quarter-mile acceleration performance, and a 44 percent reduction in well-to-wheel greenhouse gas emissions.

The second place vehicle, engineered by students at the University of Wisconsin – Madison, is a through-the-road parallel hybrid electric vehicle with a 1.9L diesel engine fueled by B20 biodiesel. Ohio State University was awarded third place for its power-split hybrid electric vehicle with a diesel engine fueled by B20 biodiesel.

In 2004, the first year of the program, the Challenge focused on vehicle simulation, modeling and subsystem development, and testing. In the second and third years, students integrated their advanced powertrains and subsystems into the Chevrolet Equinox. In the fourth year, students focused on consumer acceptability and over-the-road reliability and durability of their advanced propulsion systems with real-world evaluation outside of an official testing environment.

DOE’s Argonne National Laboratory (Argonne) provided competition management, team evaluation and technical and logistical support. The Greenhouse gas, Regulated Emissions, and Energy in Transportation model, developed at Argonne, was used to assess a well-to-wheel analysis of the greenhouse gas impacts of each technology approach the teams selected."